CHICAGO -- Kirk Hinrich was back at the United Center on Tuesday night playing for the Chicago Bulls. As his teammates watched him race up and down the floor, it felt as if the veteran guard never left.
"Time flies," Hinrich's teammate once more, Luol Deng, said with a laugh. "I know Kirk's game really well so that helps a lot and it's good. The preseason is good; guys like Rip, guys that haven't played with him, can get a good feel of it."
Hinrich, who scored five points and dished out seven assists in 24 minutes, admitted to having plenty of extra thoughts rushing through his head during the game. He knew that people wanted to know how it felt for him to be back in a Bulls uniform, and it was easy to see from his reaction that there was a simple answer: comfortable.
"It feels great," Hinrich said. "We had practice (Monday). It was exciting just to be back in the building. It's a great place to play. ... I'm still thinking a lot out there. So I was just trying to focus on not screwing up, trying to run the team. That was it. I was just trying to not think about (being back) and what I had to do."
It was just the first preseason game and there are still plenty of kinks to work out, but it seemed that Hinrich tried to get others involved in the offense, the same way he had done before.
"Kirk knows how to play," Bulls guard Rip Hamilton said. "He really, really makes my job easy. When I run up the floor he tries to get me the ball early so I can try to make a play for myself or one of my teammates. He's smart, man. He's one of them guys that really knows how to play and makes my job easy."
That was the feeling throughout the locker room. If Hinrich can stay healthy, his teammates feel they will be fine without Derrick Rose for a large chunk of the season.
"He's got great hands, man," Bulls forward Carlos Boozer said of Hinrich. "A great feel for the game. He's still trying to learn everything, everybody's talking to him. You've got 10 different guys in your ear, plus Thibs, which seems like 10 guys in one. But honestly, I think he's handling it great. A very, very good defensive player. It seemed like he had three or four steals right away in that third quarter, it got us going in the transition a little bit. (He) has a great feel for the game."